Labengki Island is a beautiful island located around the south-eastern side of Sulawesi Island. This island is barely inhabitant and has no facilities. But behind all that, there is an ultimate combination of nature’s beauty hidden at this pristine island. From rich marine life, rare giant clams underwater, and wonderful lake thickly surrounded by wild trees to dive in. Some people compare the beauty of Labengki with Papua’s famous diving site Raja Ampat. They even dubbed Labengki as “Raja Ampat of Sulawesi”.
How to Get There
Labengki Island is located not very far from Kendari city, the Province of South East Sulawesi. This island is also a part of Tolitoli Conservation Giant Clam Marine Park. You need to use boat to reach this island. There are two choices of boats; modern speedboat and ketinting (traditional wooden boat usually used by local fishermen). Both kinds of boat are available at several ports in Kendari. Mostly, tourists will rent the boat and depart from the conservation center at the Tolitoli Village or from Banyan Harbor which is located at Central Market Complex.
Both of those ports can be reached from Haluoleo Airport of Kendari by driving for about 90 minutes. If you book your hotel in the city and plan to depart from there, the drive will take only one hour. The airport at Kendari only serves flights from Jakarta and Makassar. But that is not a big problem since both Jakarta and Makassar have international airport that serve flights from many countries in the world and many major cities in Indonesia.
The flight from Jakarta to Kendari usually takes up about two hours. From Kendari to Tolitoli Village, the drive will take about 60 to 90 minutes. Last, from the port to Labengki Island, the boat ride will take about three hours if the wind and the wave are friendly. During a rough wave, this boat ride will take up to four hours.
Where to Stay
Labengki consists of two islands; Big Labengki Island and Small Labengki Island. Big Labengki Island is un-inhabitant while Small Labengki Island is inhabited by traditional Bajo Tribe. Both of those islands do not have hotels or any amenities. Therefore, you need to book your stay at Kendari. At the city of Kendari, you can find several options of accommodation with various rates, depending on the facilities they offer. Some of the accommodations are:
- Hotel Plaza Inn Kendari By Horison
- Location : Jalan Antero Hamra 57-59, Pier Complex, Kendari
- Phone : +62 401 3131888
- Swiss Belhotel Kendari
- Location : Jalan Edi Sabara 88, By Pass 93122, Kendari
- Phone : +62 401 3128777
- Hotel Arieskha
- Location : Jalan Lautze 78B Kendari
- Phone : +62 401 323522
- Hotel Bukit Indah
- Location : Jalan Abd Silondae 1 Kendari
- Phone : +62 401 321053
- Hotel Bunga Tanjung
- Location : Jalan Bunga Tanjung 111 Kendari
- Phone : +62 401 321134
- Hotel Dana Indah
- Location : Jalan Bunga Kamboja 10 Kendari
- Phone : +62 401 326188
- Hotel Efarial
- Location : Jalan S Parman 77 Kendari
- Phone : +62 401 321683
Kendari city has quite plenty tourism destinations. Thus, during holiday season, there will be many tourists to come to the city. This may cause the hotels to be fully booked pretty fast. Therefore, make sure to book your stay at least few days prior visiting the city.
The first thing about Labengki that your eyes will catch is the beautiful formation of the island. Labengki is like a huge coral island with thick vegetation on top of it. The island is bordered with fine beaches and crystal blue sea. The sand is bright white which is contrast in harmony with the dark grey color of the coral island. The entire Labengki Island has total shoreline about 200 kilometers long. With the pristine condition of the beaches, it would be really fun to strip off your sandals and walk the beach barefooted.
The Hill and the Lake
Enough with walking on the beach, you might want to put on a proper trekking shoes as there is a small hill in the middle of the island. The hill is filled with thick formation of trees which provides lots of fresh air to the entire island. Hiding in the middle of the hill, there is a beautiful lake with brackish water.
The lake has about 500 meters long in diameter. The depth ranges between 10 to 20 meters. This lake is nice to dive in. Under the water, there is a harmonious ecosystem consists of seaweed, sponge fish, clams, and more.
Labengki Island is still a part of Asia Pacific Golden Triangle. Thus, the water around the beach is rich in biodiversity. One of the unique sea creatures living at this water is the giant clam. Giant clam only live at several specific places in the world. Under the Labengki water, there are nine species out of total ten species of them.
Giant clams have unique ability to filter water from several types of disadvantageous particles. This results in cleaner and healthier water for the entire marine ecosystem to live at. They also have the ability to produce elements that can strengthen the coral formation. And that is how the marine life of Labengki Island has rich biodiversity and wonderful panorama.
Few years ago, the marine ecosystem there was in severe danger as there were many irresponsible fishermen and fishing companies who use bombs to catch the fishes. But gratefully, some local people felt concerned about that and began to do serious conservation in order to save the ecosystem. Now, Labengki Island becomes a part of Tolitoli Conservation Giant Clam Marine Park. The management of Marine Park is now developing Labengki Island to be the main tourism destination for Giant Clam Diving.
Snorkeling and Diving
Visiting Labengki Island will not feel right without enjoying the marine life to see the giant clams and the entire marine life underwater. To that, you can do scuba diving or snorkeling around the island. You can contact the management of Marine Park to rent the equipment as well as hiring an instructor to accompany you during the adventure.
Around Labengki Island, there are several tiny coral islands which provide nice spots for snorkeling. Under the depth of only two meters, you can see various kinds of corals; branch coral, round coral, chimney coral, and much more. Between the corals, you will see fishes in any types and colors swimming around. You can also see turtle shells scattered at the sea floor.
If you go further to the sea, you can dive in at deeper sea. At this area, the marine life would be more diverse and stunning. If you wish to see the giant clams, you can dive to the depth of 20 meters. Also, you can encounter lots of exotic lobster hiding between the corals and anemones.
Enjoy the Fish
At the late afternoon, it would be nice to sail your boat to the sea and do some fishing. After that, you can sail back to the island and grill the fish at the beach and eat it while enjoying the sunset. There are many kinds of fishes that you can caught at this sea, such as barracuda, sailfish, grouper, red snapper, yellow fin tuna, and much more.
If you go fishing at further sea, you will get the chance to see dolphins. These dolphins sometimes appear during your boat trip from Tolitoli to Labengki. And if you get more luck, you will also see some whales swimming around. Not to be afraid, whales are not dangerous as long as you do not get too close and provoke them.
For now, Labengki Island is still a little bit raw for tourism destination as the island is lacking in accommodation and amenities. But the nature exoticism that you will see at the island will be worth it. Anyway, Kendari is not that far from the island and has everything you need. So there should not be any problem that can block your way to explore the beauty of Labengki Island.
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